On the LIMS/Laboratory Informatics group (http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/36640/6A50095E87BA ), we’ve been having a rousing discussion on what is basically “SAP QM Versus Traditional LIMS.” Many good points have come out of that discussion. One thing that we only touched-on, though, was the issue of services.
There were one or two comments that I thought alluded to the issue that SAP’s QM module has not necessarily been properly implemented to service the labs that would use it. That is certainly the fault of the people providing the services if the product provides the appropriate tools for providing an appropriate LIMS implementation (and, not being an SAP QM developer, I cannot say what the case would be). When I work with customers to do a LIMS product selection, we do talk about the issues services can bring.
First of all, when you select a software product, it’s easiest to select it by features. But the services used to implement it will often cost more than the initial license fees. As such, customers must make sure they find people who can provide excellent services, as well.
Let’s suppose we found the ultimate in products – few bugs and features galore. If someone implements it who doesn’t know what they’re doing or who just doesn’t care, the best of systems can be an expensive, unusable mess.
Who Should Service the Software
There are some software products where there are not many choices for services. If you can find anyone to service it, you are merely lucky to find them and you can’t be too picky about quality. But for most of the software that you would generally hear about on a regular basis, there are probably a variety of choices.
A few months ago, I heard a software vendor say that no-one can understand the software the way the company that writes the software can and, as such, no-one else can provide good services for it. First of all, it is only the people who actually develop the software who understand its true depths and those people usually don’t go out on customer visits (although, that does depend on the brand of LIMS). Second of all, the skills required to develop software are not the same skills required to provide services for that software. As such, one cannot assume that, because the software vendor provides good software that they can provide good services.
And so, it leaves us all in a marketing battle, with software vendors claiming their own people are best, and people like me claiming experienced people like me are better. So, this then comes down to individual situations and credibility. Some people believe their software vendors do a better job because they are closer to the source. Other people believe people like myself do a better job, because we have the experience needed to do a high-quality job. Each side believes we’re right. As such, if you ask us, each of us will tell you to pick us.
Unfortunately for the SAP QM issue, that discussion has not left me being certain that SAP does or does not provide any particular level of service along with its product. So, is it a good product with bad services, a bad product with bad services, or something else? I think it’s hard to tell. But, I will say this – as a customer, you must get a certain sense of this before taking any particular route. SAP and any of the products we normally talk about as LIMS solutions – they’re all much too expensive to do a bad implementation of and to have to redo. Be extra-cautious in your selection process to save hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. And, as a solution, every single one of us will tell you you can solve all your problems if you “pick me.” 😉